Executive Team


Clare Lyons-Collins, CEO 

Clare joined Best Beginnings as Interim CEO in January 2023.  

She has a wealth of experience across NHS policy and practice, initially training as an Occupational Therapist specialising in Stroke and Head Injury and laterally in mental health. She has held operational roles in the NHS in acute services, including women's health, mental health and commissioning. 
 
Clare also worked nationally for the healthcare regulator Monitor on national mental health policy as well as leading a national improvement model co-produced with mental health trusts and people who use services.
 
She initially learned of Best Beginnings after using the Bump to Breastfeeding resource when her children were born. She is passionate about early years and has been a Trustee of Best Beginnings for 4 years.
 
Clare lives in London with her husband and two children, holds an MBA from Henley Business School and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Leadership Fellow at St George's House, Windsor Castle.

Email: [email protected]




Operations

Nilushka Perera, Interim Head of Operations

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Nilushka joined the Best Beginnings family in 2016. With a background in Psychology and International Public Health, Nilu is passionate about research and collaboration to strengthen our understanding of reaching communities through the intersections of behavioural health, digital health and inequalities in global health. Nilu is also a Mental Health and Psychosocial Practitioner in Sri Lanka where she is involved in research and development projects to support access to holistic support in diverse communities. In her free time, Nilu enjoys singing, experiencing new places and yoga.

Email: [email protected]



Finance


Dean Farmer, Financial Controller

Dean joined the Best Beginnings team in March 2023 as our Financial Controller. Based in Birmingham, Dean is a qualified accountant with a range of experience across the private, public and charity sectors. In his role as Financial Controller, Dean is responsible for the financial aspects of Best Beginnings as a charity with a focus on establishing our continued and sustainable growth.

When not “playing with numbers”, Dean is a keen runner and also enjoys scuba diving when time permits. He has two football-obsessed daughters, one dog and two cats.

Email: [email protected]
Finance enquiry -
direct line: 0203 6759451

 


Fundraising Team 



James Hunt, Head of Fundraising 

James joined Best Beginnings in October 2023 as Head of Fundraising.

James has had a wonderful and varied career to date, that has taken him from working on pantomime to working in politics for an MP at the House of Commons. For the past 20 years, James has worked in the charity sector in leadership and fundraising roles. This has included supporting the build of a children’s hospice, developing events and income for a major UK hospital, creating cohesion between large companies and patient organisations, and more recently running a media charity that supported care experienced young people to gain skills and gain better outcomes.

James is a trustee of several charities and has a passion for supporting young people, especially through Scouting. In his spare time he runs a Scout camp/outdoor centre as a Volunteer Chair. James lives in London with his wife who is a nurse, and 2 young children who are currently pushing the boundaries of explaining how Fortnite works to their dad.

Email: [email protected]

Fundraising enquiry - direct line: 0203 8565701
Marketing enquiry - direct line: 0203 8565700



Digital and Content Team


Nicola Cadbury, Head of Content 

Nicola joined the Best Beginnings team in February 2020 as Content Lead to develop engaging, accessible and evidence-based content for the Baby Buddy parenting app. Previously she worked as Senior Policy and Communications Manager for the National Literacy Trust, focusing on influencing work related to language, communication and literacy development in the early years. Prior to that she led campaigns at ActionAid, including the Tax Justice campaign and the Send My Friend to School coalition. This campaign contributed to the UK government becoming the leading global education donor and engaged over a million young people in the UK, supporting them to develop as confident campaigners.

Nicola’s voluntary sector career includes extensive experience across communications, campaigning, fundraising and partnerships work. She is passionate about tackling inequalities and ensuring that every child is able to realise their rights to nurturing care, health and education.     

Email: [email protected]

Anna Lumbroso, Head of Digital 

Anna joined Best Beginnings in August 2023. Coming from a rich and varied background, Anna has spent the last 10 years managing digital content and marketing strategies for the arts. She enjoys storytelling and crafting unique digital experiences. 

Anna loves classical music, football and French wine. She lives in London with her family and their cat and dog.

Email: [email protected]

Jake Elgood Field, Digital Lead 

Jake became part of the Best Beginnings team in September 2019 as a Digital Product Manager. His main focus is the Baby Buddy app, ensuring it delivers on the needs of its users as well as thinking ahead to the future in terms of ways it can improve.

He grew up in London then studied History at the University of York. After graduating he worked for two years at a startup, before joining Best Beginnings. His greatest achievement is probably reaching the dizzy heights of number one in England in the official Fantasy football league.

Email: [email protected]

Jenny Mcleish, Content Writer

Jenny has written the copy for the Baby Buddy app since 2011.  Her career as a researcher, writer, advisor, trainer and campaigner has been dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged families. Her areas of expertise include inequalities affecting young parents, migrant parents and parents living with mental illness, with a broader focus on maternity services, volunteer and peer support, poverty and nutrition.

Alongside her role at Best Beginnings, Jenny is a qualitative researcher at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University, and is studying for a PhD on perinatal mental health and peer support at City, University of London. She is also the Strategic Coordinator for the National Teenage Pregnancy Midwifery Network. She finds that having one foot in the voluntary sector and the other in the academic sector enables creative cross-fertilisation. Like the rest of the Best Beginnings team, she could do with a few extra hours in each day!

Email: [email protected]

Ruth Edmondson, Senior Video Producer

Ruth joined the Best Beginnings team in 2022 as Senior Video Producer. She has been a producer, director and editor for 20 years, specialising in video content for charities, healthcare (particularly maternity services) and educational organisations. Her focus has always been on capturing and sharing emotional stories that help bring about positive change. Ruth believes in sharing her skills to empower others - as co-founder of a video training academy, she trains individuals and organisations to create their own promotional, educational and social videos using smartphones. Ruth is mum to twin boys and a rescue terrier. She enjoys choir singing and volunteering with a local neighbourhood food project.

Email: [email protected]

Catherine Quelcutti, Digital Content Officer

Catherine joined the Best Beginnings team in January 2024 as the Digital Content Officer. She is a registered Children's Nurse and has practiced as a Neonatal Nurse for over ten years caring for the most vulnerable babies born prematurely or poorly. Catherine's most recent role was working in the NHS to transform the quality and safety of the neonatal and maternity services. As a qualified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI) she is very passionate about feeding support and bonding and attachment. Catherine is a mum of two and has a passion for the outdoors, motorbikes and photography, often combining all three activities!

Email: [email protected]


Project Management Leads



Alex Paterson, Project Manager - Inclusion

Alex is coordinating the delivery of Best Beginnings’ offer for LGBTQ+ parents, including our They Call Me Dad project. This will create an inclusive pathway into Baby Buddy app for LGBTQ+ parents, ensuring they have the support and confidence they need to thrive as parents. He also supports engagement across our localisation projects. Alex’s professional background is as an Early Years Teacher and he has spent most of his career leading Nursery and Children Centre Services. He has a post-graduate diploma from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in Infant Mental Health. Alex is passionate about improving outcomes for all families and their babies. He is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Email: [email protected]

Danii Wing, Project Manager - Women in the Workplace

Danii is coordinating Best Beginnings' Women in the Workplace project, in partnership with Pregnant Then Screwed. Danii has a masters in forensic psychology and has spent the last 10 years working in the charity sector. Her work has focused on creating different outcomes for people involved in the criminal justice system and using a trauma-informed approach to help women overcome societal and personal barriers. Danii has two children and has personal experience with the confusing and contradictory information available to mothers returning to work. She's excited that the Women in the Workplace project has the opportunity to empower mothers with knowledge to make the best decisions for both them and their families. Outside of work Danii loves baking birthday cakes, embroidery, and dancing to the Encanto soundtrack with her children.

Email: [email protected]


Impact and Implementation Team

Mariana Santos da Silva, Impact Lead

Born and raised in a small town in Portugal, Mariana moved to Hong Kong in 2016 to finish school, and then to London in 2018 to study Global Health at university. She has recently graduated from her master’s degree in Women’s Health with a newfound passion for reproductive justice, and making sure that children are given the best chance at life. Mariana first joined Best Beginnings in 2021 as the Evaluation, Policy and Impact Officer. She then left the team to pursue further education and has now re-joined the team as our Impact Lead. In her new role, Mariana hopes to make positive change, learn through experience, and have a meaningful impact on the community. Outside of work, Mariana enjoys cosy hobbies like baking and crocheting cute gifts for her friends and family. She is a big believer in taking initiative, seeing the good and trusting the process.

Email: [email protected]

Leila Khatouri, Impact and Development Manager

Leila joined the Best Beginnings team in 2022 as an Engagement Officer and has since transitioned to the role of Impact and Development Manager. Her new role will focus on Baby Buddy Local and embedding Baby Buddy app into key areas across the UK. Leila has a background in Education and has always been passionate that all children deserve the best start in life. Outside of work, Leila enjoys travelling to new places, cooking and eating delicious food and practising yoga. 

Email: [email protected]




Finance, Office and HR Team



Katarina Kent, Office, Administration & HR Lead

Katarina has been working for Best Beginnings since January 2017 as an administrative assistant for the office and finance department. Her educational background is in economy and social work. She has a strong interest in medicine and psychology too. She is a mother of three beautiful children and understands all the challenges which parenthood can bring, so Best Beginnings is close to her heart.

Email: [email protected]
General enquiry:
0207 4437895

 

Khushida Begum, Accounts Apprentice

Khushida initially joined Best Beginnings on the See, Hear, Respond programme and has now had an amazing opportunity to be a part of the finance team as an apprentice. She has huge passion to be working within charities, especially one aimed to give children the best start in life as she has personal experience being a looked after child. 

Email: [email protected]


Expert Volunteers


Alison Spiro, Health Visiting and Breastfeeding Lead

Alison became involved with Best Beginnings after she met Alison Baum in 2006 at the opening of a breastfeeding café in an ethnically diverse North London borough. She trained peer supporters to work in these support groups, and they represented the local community, speaking over 20 local languages. She worked as a health visitor for 20 years and a specialist in breastfeeding for 10 years, when she also seconded to a local hospital. Anne used Bump to Breastfeeding DVD and Small Wonders when training community and hospital staff, and these helped both trusts to become Unicef Baby Friendly accredited.

Anne holds a PhD in social anthropology and completed her field work in India. She was awarded the Julie Crawford Award for services to breastfeeding and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Award for outstanding service. Anne currently represents Best Beginnings on the Baby Feeding Law Group, the World Breastfeeding Trends initiative, the Breastfeeding Alliance and the APPG on Infant Feeding and Inequalities. She is a professional advisor for the Institute of Health Visiting, an honorary lecturer at Brunel University and volunteers in local breastfeeding support groups.